Advanced Painting Atelier Week 10 & 11 Split-Complimentary Color Figure Painting

“Two Weeks.” I have visions of the huge and tall person in the movie Total Recall when the head explodes while going through customs. I decided to do a portrait, of course, I wanted to challenge myself because I thought I needed the practice. Finishing it in two weeks was a joke! For what it is worth, I just finished it. Remember, that always comes with the caveat of “I’m going to futz with it for a while longer until I’m satisfied…”

I chose to lay this painting out using a grid, that’s what the black lines were for. Have you ever heard of the term, “no battle plans last beyond the first engagement?” Painting is like that. Once you get the first coat of paint on the canvas, all your reference lines or points vanish and you are left with your own skills. This is one of the reasons my self-portait moved into that incredibly awkward 16-year old boy. One of my goals for this blog is to show you what painting is for me. It isn’t perfect. It’s a process. Frankly, a painting is never done, I can always find other things to tweak. The more I learn, the less happy I am with my older paintings, but they tell a tale of my growth as a painter; and they are so much more important for just that reason. Even with my limited knowledge at the time, I painted them anyway. Whatever level of artist you are at, I suggest you do the same. You cannot improve as a painter if you don’t paint. The practice alone is what will make you a better artist, not thinking about it, not studying other painters. You have to PRACTICE your craft, to ACT upon that knowledge for it to mean anything. Please take that piece of information to heart.

Here it is early on.

I put about 60+ hours into the final painting. I thought it would be good practice for the Schaefer Portrait Challenge coming up in September of this year. True to form, looking at the shadows in the ear I need to soften them just a bit so that they blend in with the rest of the ear, and that list is getting longer…

What did I learn? I love doing portraits. They take a lot of time to do right. One of my past professions was that of a massage therapist. Every time I worked on a body, I fell in love with the shape of the body, the curves, the feel, and I was able to work on someone without any type of judgment, just an appreciation for how well it all fit together. I find when I’m working on a portrait, I get that same feeling. It is the minute changes in expression that make or break a portrait. All the nuances have to be just right or it is the face of someone else. I hope Jake will be pleased with this one!

Painting a portrait is a very different thing from painting a “hula dancer” or a”female nude”. You can create the form of a generic man or woman and there’s no requirement that it look exactly like the model unless that is part of your plan. That’s up to you. Painting a portrait though, at least for me, I want it to capture the energy and feel of the person I’m painting. That is one of the reasons it takes so much longer for me.

Advanced Painting Atelier Weeks 8 & 9 Trompe l’Oeil

This time, we had two weeks to complete a painting. Rose wanted us to do a Trompe l’Oeil, which is a painting that gives the illusion of reality, such as a painting of a window onto a lush tropical landscape that is painted directly on a wall. In this case, I painted a tree frog on a flower coming out of a hole in the wall.

I had an old canvas that I had primed with leftover dark colors, and I decided to use that. The colored tree frog on the blossom I cut out so that I could see how it would look as part of the painting. I probably took the most amount of time deciding how to shape the window, what type of border to use, and finally, how thick to make the border. After I made those decisions, I had to move the whole thing.

Here is the final. Everyone thinks he is incredibly cute!

Advanced Painting Atelier Weeks 5 – 7 Master Copy

The next thing we had to do for our Advanced painting class was to do a copy of a Master Painting. I chose Miranda from “The Tempest” painted by John William Waterhouse.

Miranda by John William Waterhouse

I chose this painting because I thought I needed to practice putting my subjects firmly in a background. Most of my paintings are portraits, not complete paintings with a foreground, middle ground, and a background. The first thing I did was to crop the painting because I only had three weeks to complete it.

Here’s a picture of my cropped image and the beginning of my underpainting. The finished size will be 12 x 16.

Here it is much further along.

Here’s my final. It needed a lot more work and this was what I could finish in three weeks. I learned a lot. You can absolutely learn to paint like another artist. I spent a lot of time figuring out how Waterhouse created his brush strokes, how he layered paint to get effects or certain colors. I figured out that he drew/painted the figure without the dress first, I could tell by the shape of the legs under the skirts. A lot of what he paints is very loose, and that is difficult to copy. This needed probably about another 15 hours for me to be happy with it. It turned out to be a great learning experience.